- Micronesia in Review:Issues and Events, 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014
Reviews of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Palau are not included in this issue.
Federated States of Micronesia
During the period covered by this review, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) grappled with several significant challenges to its integrity as a functional government and a legal state—some long-standing, some newly borne, all symptoms of international, regional, and domestic discord. The responses of the state governments and the FSM national government revealed a persistent truth in the politics of the federation: solidarity outside, dissension within.
Leading the litany of challenges was the perennial—and existential—threat of climate change. In May 2013, climatologists measured atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide near the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawai‘i as exceeding 400 parts per million, the highest ever recorded (Carrington 2013). In September 2013, Working Group i of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ipcc) released a major report on the physical science basis of climate change, wherein the group asserted that it is “extremely likely” that most of the observed increase in global average surface temperature over the last sixty years was due to “anthropogenic forcings” and predicted that the global sea level will rise at a rate very likely exceeding the already-alarming rate observed in the last forty years (ipcc 2013). The sea level in the FSM was measured to be rising by ten millimeters per year, more than three times the global average, with predictions that it will rise up to six inches from the current level by 2030 (iccai 2013). King tides, storm surges, and coastal flooding have afflicted the FSM, contaminating farmland, ruining freshwater supplies, and disrupting island communities throughout the federation.
In this context, on 5 September 2013, FSM representatives joined those from the fifteen other members of the Pacific Islands Forum in endorsing the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership during the Forum meeting held in the Marshall Islands (pif 2013). The declaration announces the intent of Forum members to assume climate leadership, a mantle marked by ambitious greenhouse-gas-emission reductions and a regional transition to renewable and clean energy sources. Via its representatives, the FSM government committed to, among other things, halving the federation’s import and use of imported petroleum fuels by 2020, generating half the electricity needed for use in rural areas from renewable energy sources by the same year, and realizing a “net gain of area and health status of coral reefs” between 2013 and 2020 (pif 2013).
The Pacific Islands Forum also featured a Declaration on Establishing a Pacific Regional Data Repository for [End Page 211] Sustainable Energy for All (se4all), which was introduced by Tonga and endorsed by all the Forum representatives including those of the FSM. The se4all initiative is a global effort launched in 2010 by United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that aims to achieve three goals by 2030: provide universal access to modern energy, double global energy efficiency, and double the share of global renewable energy. The declaration endorsed by the Forum calls for the establishment of a central clearing-house in the Pacific for information about sustainable energy best practices, in the hope of assisting Pacific states to reduce fuel imports, make energy services more affordable and efficient, and adopt broader sustainable energy portfolios, per the objectives of the se4all initiative. Several weeks after the Forum concluded, FSM President Emanuel Mori held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Siale’ataongo Tu’ivakanā of Tonga in New York City in the margins of the opening of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, during which he signed the declaration on behalf of the FSM (fsmis, 24 Sept 2013).
In addition to adopting clear and ambitious national commitments to tackle climate change and its drivers under the Majuro Declaration and the se4all initiative, the FSM government continued its groundbreaking work in tackling climate change through a somewhat unorthodox approach: reducing powerful greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons (hfcs), pursuant to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. hfcs are potent, manmade greenhouse gases used...